Friday, November 24, 2017

Arty Farty Friday ~ So Much More Than Sun Signs

For the past few weeks I've been reading and occasionally contributing answers to questions at Quora, particularly to any questions on astrology there. I've been disappointed to note how ingrained what I call Sun sign astrology short-hand has become in people's minds. I'd hoped that, due to so much free astrology information on the internet, more readers would have become enlightened enough to realise that we are not our Sun signs! There's no such creature as "a Taurus" or "an Aquarius", "a Scorpio", "a Capricorn" and so on. I'm suspecting that social media, rather than the internet in general, has contributed greatly to this ingraining effect. Astrology message boards and forums of the past were doing a good job in educating readers as to the deeper, finer points of astrology. Much of that appears to have been forgotten now, or perhaps has never even been encountered by some of the youngest generation of astrology fans who have grown up using only Facebook.

Anyway...with the point that "we are all so much more than our Sun signs" in mind, and as it's Arty Farty Friday, and one of the artists featured was born this day,
24 November, in the 19th century, a re-run of a loosely relevant 2008 arty-farty post follows.

Before we run away with the idea that Sagittarius is all happy-clappy sunbeamy optimism, a look at two artists' lives and stars could give us pause. The two artists: Edvard Munch and Toulouse Lautrec.

Almost everyone, art lover or not, recognises Edvard Munch's painting "The Scream" (left). Perhaps because it strikes a chord in the hearts of us all - a feeling we recognise. His other works are less known. Many of them uncover the story of an artist filled with despair. Munch was born on 12 December 1863. What happened to the Sagittarian joie de vivre?
'My art is rooted in a single reflection: why am I not as others are? Why was there a curse on my cradle? Why did I come into the world without any choice? My art gives meaning to my life'.
His mother died from TB when he was five years old, and by his 14th year he had to watch his sister, his elder by a year, die from the same disease. Early paintings reflect his tortured recollections of these events. His anxiety related to women in general seems to have continued until, in his mid-forties he suffered a despressive illness which kept him in a Danish sanatorium for eight months. On recovery, he began painting more ordinary subject matter, and said that he had foresworn alcohol and women, for both had contributed to his depressive state.

Toulouse Lautrec another Sun Sagittarian artist, born 24 November 1864, also led a less than joy filled life. He was born into an aristocratic French family, but suffered physical defects which sprang from interbreeding. His bones were weak, and his growth stunted.
"The family soon realized something was wrong with the clever, audacious Henri: he was undersized, weak, and frequently ill. Then when he was twelve he broke his left thighbone by simply standing up from the sofa. The injury took months to heal, and just as he was starting to get better, he broke his other leg.

Toulouse-Lautrec would never be the same. His legs essentially quit growing. The rest of his body continued to develop--he had a full-size torso, large head, oversized hands, and bony wrists, all perched precariously on skinny, stumpy legs. For the rest of his life, wherever he went he was sure to hear the laughter of children and see the pointed fingers of men and women mocking his odd dwarf-like appearance."

Lautrec dealt with his problems differently from Munch. He leaned on Sagittarian love of excess.

What astrological factors appear to be significant in each artist's chart? Women are a common denominator in both their art and their lives, but perceived and treated quite differently. For Munch, due to his early trauma, women appear to have been a source of anguish, whereas Lautrec regarded them with understanding, friendship and as a source of joy. Position of Moon (the feminine) in each chart might be significant to this difference in attitude - Munch's Moon in serious Capricorn ruled by Saturn, Lautrec's in easy going Libra, ruled by Venus.

Edvard Munch - natal chart, unknown time of birth, so set for 12 noon. Ascendant and exact degree of Moon not accurate, but Moon would have been somewhere in Capricorn whatever the birth time.

Personal planets are bunched into four signs, Libra to Capricorn. The outer planets are opposite, in Aries to Gemini. Symbolically this comes across as "Munch against the rest of the world". His Sun and Mercury in Sagittarius sit uncomfortably next to three Scorpio planets. These two signs are not good companions, wherein might lie much of the source of his anxious discomfort. Sagittarius prefers to be jovial, happy-go-lucky, while Scorpio leans toward paranoia and secret obsession. Sunny Sagittarian vibes are symbolically drowned.

Munch's steady Capricorn Moon must have afforded some grounding, and possibly came into its own in his later years, as he recovered from a serious bout of depression.

South Node of the Moon, a sensitive point in the chart, is in Taurus and conjunct malefic Fixed Star Algol. North Node is conjunct Mars, in its own sign, Scorpio, there's extra emphasis on this angry planet. Anger and depression are closely linked. The nodal axis, with Algol at one end and Mars at the other indicates, to me, a pair of negative triggers for planets passing over the nodes in transit.

Some extracts from a biography at, with added illustration of relevant paintings, provide some insight into Munch's dis-ease:

"Munch perceived sex as an ineluctable destiny, and few of his works represent Woman (capitalized as usual) in a favorable light."
"In Puberty a skinny young girl meditates, sitting naked on her bed beneath the threatening form of her own shadow, while in The Voice a young woman, alone in the woods, attends to some inner whisper; these are the most sensitive representations of woman in Munch's work.In another iconic image, the Madonna (right), of which he painted various versions between 1893 and 1902, overtly offers her ecstatic sexuality and yet remains inaccessible. Why inaccessible? A lithographic version suggests the answer: around the frame which encloses the seductress the straggling spermatozoa wriggle in vain while, in the lower left-hand corner, a pathetic homunculus, a wizened and ageless wide-eyed fetus, lifts its supplicant gaze toward the goddess."

"Munch's lithograph verges on irony, to which he was not averse. Even so, modifying the well-known phrase, we may wish to suggest that 'irony is the courtesy of despair'. Munch's art represents women in the light of trauma.

Seduction itself is a source of anxiety; satisfaction brings remorse (Ashes, left), and jealousy and separation are experienced as terrifying and depressing events."

Toulouse Lautrec

Astrotheme has his time of birth at 6am, putting his three Sagittarius planets (Sun, Jupiter in its own sign, and Mercury) into first house of self, reflecting that life of excess he is reported to have led in the fleshpots of turn of century France. There's a Grand Cross in his chart formed by square aspects and oppositions (see small diagram) - here is much of the challenge in his life story. There's an additional opposition between Mercury and Mars - more tension and energy, here linked to communication/painting style, which is certainly bold in colour and content. His Scorpio ascendant clearly connects to the eroticisim surrounding his lifestyle. Lautrec lived fast and died young, at 36.

He is described by David Sweetmen in his book "Explosive Acts":

"Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is known as the disfigured and dangerously self-destructive artist who recorded prolifically the louche world of sexy night-club dancers, lounging whores, and drunken bohemian merriment. Both in his life and art, he is thought to embody the climate of inebriated hilarity and excess of the fin de siecle. But as David Sweetman,
the noted biographer of Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, shows in this definitive work, there was another Toulouse-Lautrec, a committed and concerned man who moved in a secret community of anarchist revolutionaries, whose work betrayed a deep concern for human suffering, an artist who etched his sympathy for fallen women and lesbians into his portraits, and who remained loyal to the disgraced Oscar Wilde when the poet was abandoned and reviled by most."

He certainly lived up to Sagittarius's reputation for excess!

"Over time, all the hard living started to take its toll. Friends watched as walking became more and more difficult; in time, he could only go a few steps without stopping to rest and catch his breath-although he always came up with some excuse, such as a pretty girl to ogle. He probably had syphilis, which reached pandemic levels in the brothels, but it was the alcohol that was really killing him. For more than a decade, Toulouse-Lautrec happily drank his friends under the table and then arrived at the print shop cold sober. But in the late 1890s, his productivity dropped sharply with the artist often too drunk to work. When raging paranoia set in and he started shooting at the walls to kill giant imaginary spiders, his family finally stepped in and had him confined to a mental institution.

He dried out quickly, and in less than three months he was released."

A lesson to be learned from all of the above, if any passing reader has managed to stay with me thus far, is to remember that there is a heck of a lot more to a person than their Sun sign. We're wise not to forget, also, that there's a lot more to a person than their astrology!


R J Adams said...

I don't know about Sun signs, but, oh, you women have certainly caused us men much sorrow and suffering down through the ages. ;-)

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~ Yeah well...blame that dang serpent - if only it hadn't slithered into the Garden of Eden! ;-/